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Old 14-03-2015, 19:38   #1
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San Francisco to Everette Wa.

I am posing a question for more information and or sources... I'm getting ready to deliver a Vagabond 46 from San Francisco Bay to the Puget sound area. In your experience, how far offshore would you cruise to avoid Cape Mendocino area's convergence? I'm hoping someone has made this passage and would help with GPS Heading co-ordinance, route planning. I'm flying to San Fran on the 25th of March with ETA. Everette Wa. April 8th .... GPS route this time of the year would be most appreciated. TIA Cap'n D.

earth :: an animated map of global wind, weather, and ocean conditions
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Old 14-03-2015, 19:46   #2
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Re: San Francisco to Everette Wa.

From SF you want to head straight out about 150 to 200 miles off shore and turn right when you get fairly parallel with Vancouver Is. then head in.
The current heads South along the coast but getting way off shore it changes. You'll know by stopping dead in the water and watch the GPS of which way your drifting, if theres no wind.
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Old 14-03-2015, 20:07   #3
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Re: San Francisco to Everette Wa.

http://georgebenson.us/

He's done ALL your research for you.

Safe journey.
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Old 14-03-2015, 20:48   #4
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Re: San Francisco to Everette Wa.

I commercial fished Cape Mendocino many years. When I was going by without fishing I usually ran 25 to 30 miles out in most weather. In really bad weather about 60 miles out. That was in a 55' salmon/tuna troller. The only times I was out 200 miles was tuna fishing or on the way to Hawaii. I normally run most of the West Coast 25 - 30 miles out. Most fishing and freighters are inside of that. Crescent City is a good port in a storm.
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Old 14-03-2015, 22:11   #5
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Re: San Francisco to Everette Wa.

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Originally Posted by Stu Jackson View Post
http://georgebenson.us/

He's done ALL your research for you.

Safe journey.
Absolutely!!

We chatted with George, bought his book, then used the book religiously while cruising along that coastline and finding anchorage. Happy happy happy.

Otherwise, we stayed approx 100 miles out.

Upon advice from an Old Salt , we took Cape Mendocino about 0200 - 0300. Good advice, that. Wise decision.

James
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Old 15-03-2015, 08:52   #6
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Re: San Francisco to Everette Wa.

I agree with the basic principle of making the run 20-30 miles of shore because it allows you to run for shelter if need be. There is also a good book out there called "Exploring the Pacific Coast San Diego to Seattle" printed around 2001 which should be helpful. I at least give some ideas. Have a good trip.
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Old 15-03-2015, 08:52   #7
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Re: San Francisco to Everette Wa.

Fair warning, to get to my point just read the last paragraph 😊

I think it is important to keep in mind that rules of thumb like the distance to sail offshore are just generalities and you should plan around your own particular circumstances. Case in point, last Spring my wife and I sailed our new to us boat from SF to Puget Sound, picking that general time based on the pilot charts. Knowing that schedules are one of the keys to getting into trouble, we gave ourselves plenty of time to find a weather window and ended up waiting just over five weeks due to a huge and stable high that developed earlier than normal over the Pacific causing just the effect you are trying to avoid. We heard a LOT of advice saying to just suck it up and sail straight out 200 or so miles and then turn north, but given that the weather had been winds in the upper 20's and 30's from the NNW consistently for weeks, the seas were large and ugly and would be on the beam for days while we clawed our way west. During our wait, I met some crew from a boat that had just arrived having sailed down from Puget Sound in these conditions for the Pacific Cup race, and they said they saw winds well over predicted (up to 60 knots one night) and that making the trip then had been "stupid". We also listened to the USCG side of a VHF conversation with a sailboat trying to get in from Hawaii sailing east along the same path we would be taking to go west the 200 or so miles. Sailing beam-to in 14'+ waves for days, they were suffering from extreme seasickness and were also apparently knocked down by a statistical outlier of a wave. It sounded like they initially requested evacuation but we later learned they limped their way in, to Crescent City I believe. This had a big impact on the development of our strategy.

Watching the GRIBs for weeks made me realize that, at least last year when I was looking, the winds were significantly lighter closer to shore. Over that time the GRIBs were also surprisingly good at predicting the timing of lulls, say to within 4-8 hours. As often reported by others, they did seem to underestimate wind strength by 5 knots or so, and we experienced that on our trip north as well. In light of this, we ended up motorsailing within 20-30 miles of the coast and stayed within the "tow lane" established between crabbers and tow boat operators. It is a path 1-2 miles wide delineated pretty much all the way up the coast where crabbers have agreed to not place pots. We stuck to the outer edge of the lane and were glad to have stayed in it as we did see quite a few pots.

We left in a tight weather window that would get us around Mendocino in a predicted lull, and happily it worked. While very uncomfortable for the first few days, thankfully the calmest part of our trip up the entire CA coast was rounding Mendocino having timed it just right. Unfortunately, we went slower than planned the first couple of days due to the seas and between being behind our hoped for timing and the lull shutting down on us a bit sooner than forecast, rounding Cape Blanco was the hardest part of the trip... but that is another story.

So the moral of this story, look at your particular situation and then make a decision on the route. While the "sail west then north" advice may be the right choice in a normal year, having to sail close to 300 miles offshore to get out of the worst of the winds did not seem prudent given our specific situation, and in hindsight I don't think I would have done anything differently route wise. The inshore route worked well and definitely shortened our trip. One vital thing to consider if taking the inshore route is what many others have mentioned, you cannot count on ducking in somewhere if the weather turns ugly! Ports are few and far between and will most likely be closed before you can get to them in time. The bars north of Fort Bragg all the way to Grays Harbor were closed most of our trip up the CA coast.

Hope this helps... PM me if you want the .gpx of my route up the tow lane.

Steve
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Old 15-03-2015, 10:10   #8
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Re: San Francisco to Everette Wa.

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Originally Posted by Pyxis156 View Post
[...]
During our wait, I met some crew from a boat that had just arrived having sailed down from Puget Sound in these conditions for the Pacific Cup race, and they said they saw winds well over predicted (up to 60 knots one night) and that making the trip then had been "stupid". We also listened to the USCG side of a VHF conversation with a sailboat trying to get in from Hawaii sailing east along the same path we would be taking to go west the 200 or so miles. Sailing beam-to in 14'+ waves for days, they were suffering from extreme seasickness and were also apparently knocked down by a statistical outlier of a wave. It sounded like they initially requested evacuation but we later learned they limped their way in, to Crescent City I believe. This had a big impact on the development of our strategy.
[...]
I'll bet that that you spoke to my crew. I will dispute "stupid", but we certainly could have been smarter. We did have a tough 18-hour stretch north of the Oregon / California border. I've got some photos posted on the blog that hint at the conditions: The Friday Harbor to San Francisco Delivery in Pictures ┬ź VALIS and Youngblood┬*|┬*s/v Valis Delivery;|┬*Index. In our case we found much easier conditions 10-20 miles from the shore. The seas were lumpier due to the shallows and coastal reflections, but the winds were much lighter.

April or May are probably better than June or later for this trip, since the Pacific High and inland Low become well established by June (usually). This sets up the semi-permanent gale in the "crunch zone" between San Francisco and Oregon. Earlier should be easier. But, you definitely need to watch the weather. Going southbound I would rather have strong following or beam seas / winds than fight my way through the headwinds produced by a low-pressure system. Since the OP is heading north, waiting for that low is probably a good idea.
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Old 16-03-2015, 01:47   #9
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Re: San Francisco to Everette Wa.

I certainly appreciate all the responses. As we know "A sailors plans are at best, scribbled in the sands at low tide." I'm sure we'll get our backsides handed to us.. & I will be all the more weathered by the time I return. Set'n'Drift Cheers!
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Old 16-03-2015, 08:47   #10
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Re: San Francisco to Everette Wa.

bad time to go north. not many places of refuge and most have treacherous openings. better to wait until june
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Old 16-03-2015, 10:42   #11
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Re: San Francisco to Everette Wa.

Paul, you are the first one I know of to advocate that early of a journey south from Seattle. June I know can be rough, but do you see the conditions of California better in April than in August?
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Old 16-03-2015, 11:12   #12
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Re: San Francisco to Everette Wa.

Don't underestimate Cape Blanco. Don't expect to always be able to get in to any of the ports during really bad weather. Don't expect the winds and seas to be better closer in than out. On average they will be but often are not and it can stay that way for weeks at a time. And closer in is definitely not always safer.

But like every passage, you can have good weather the whole way too. The last couple of years have given us weather completely out of the norms. Some of it extremely nice.

The crabpots and fishing trawlers are a real hazard though so the crabpot "free" tow zone gives much more comfort if you are closer in.

But as a couple have posted - don't set yourself up to have to go on a schedule. Wait for the weather. This is not a trivial route.
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Old 19-03-2015, 20:33   #13
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Re: San Francisco to Everette Wa.

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Originally Posted by s/v Beth View Post
Paul, you are the first one I know of to advocate that early of a journey south from Seattle. June I know can be rough, but do you see the conditions of California better in April than in August?
Newt, I don't have the pilot charts at hand (I know I can download them, but the link I am using takes looooong time), but from my experience, and by watching the coastal weather conditions in spring and summer, I would say that June through August and early September the offshore gales from the NW are pretty common and last a long time. May is definitely easier. I don't know how it goes much after mid-September, but the low-pressure systems are really starting to come out of the gulf of Alaska by then.

Here's a link to an article about the weather between San Diego and Seattle that seems to agree with me. This article also has a great index with a collection WX resources: http://www.c2csandiego.com/wp-conten...t-Weather1.pdf
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